HealthDay News — From 2007 to 2015, the number of emergency department visits for suicide attempts (SA) and suicide ideation (SI) doubled among children, according to a research letter published online April 8 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Brett Burstein, PhD, MPH, from the Montreal Children’s Hospital, and colleagues performed a repeated cross-sectional analysis of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey emergency department database for 2007 to 2015 to examine trends in emergency department visits for pediatric SA/SI. Data were included for 59,921 unweighted visits, of which 2.8% met the inclusion criteria for SA/SI visits.

The researchers found that 43.1% of SA/SI visits involved children aged 5 years to younger than 11 years, and only 2.1% of patients were hospitalized. There was an increase in SA/SI visits from 2007 to 2015, from 580,000 to 1.12 million (P for trend = 0.004). No statistically significant change in total emergency department visits was seen during this time (26.9 to 31.8 million; P for trend = 0.67). From 2007 to 2015, there was an increase in SA/SI as a proportion of all pediatric emergency department encounters, from 2.17 to 3.50% (P for trend < 0.001). For SA only, emergency department visits increased from 540,000 to 960,000 (P for trend = 0.02).

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“Findings suggest a critical need to augment community mental health resources, emergency department physician preparedness, and post-emergency department risk reduction initiatives to decrease the burden of suicide among children,” the authors write.

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